I tend to read … a lot.
And of all the genres I read, Christian biography is probably one of my favorites to pore over.
So I asked myself if I got lost on an island or thrown in prison, what three biographies would I choose to keep me company?
Tough question, real tough. So I tweaked the question and decided on six, though that was equally difficult.
Here are six Christian biographies that, in my life, have risen to the top—the rich “cream” of biographies. These six have influenced and changed my life more than most. These books are in no particular order.
Rees Howells Intercessor (by Norman Grubb)
Rees Howells lived the life I want most. Growing up on the British Isle, he had an overwhelming experience with Jesus where he gave up everything in order to be spilled and spent for the glory and Kingdom of God. He was a man of prayer—effectual and fervent prayer—that literally changed the course of history at several points.
CT Studd, Cricketeer and Pioneer (by Norman Grubb)
CT Studd lived no ordinary life. Everything about this man was extraordinary—but extraordinary because of the God who indwelt and lived his life. It was Studd who changed world missions and passionately pleaded for individuals to give up everything and trust in the life and provision of Jesus. CT Studd was a missionary throughout China, India, and was the first missionary to enter into “dark interior Africa.” His life story is gritty, bold, and daring; it is in-your-face with passion, conviction, and encouragement.
Samuel Logan Brengle, Portrait of a Prophet (by Clarence Hall)
I have often prayed that God would shape me into a man that is a composite of several people (in fact several of those people are the ones whose biographies are mentioned here), but one man from recent Christian history that I sense God most moving me toward is this one, Samuel Brengle. As a Salvation Army preacher, Brengle was a man focused on one thing: the glory and holiness of God being preeminent in the lives of individuals. His was not an easy life, but it was a full one.
I have never read of an individual so captured by the indwelling presence of Christ. Having a supernatural encounter with Jesus in the bush of Africa (he was the son of a tribal king), Morris found his way to America where he desired to learn more about the Holy Spirit. Upon arrival, everyone’s life he encountered was turned upside down by his simple but fervent desire for God. He died a few years later but the testimony of his life still rings true. Reading his life always wells up deep emotion within my chest. Note: books on Morris are hard to find, there are a few good ones like “Heroes of Faith” but the great oldies are no longer in print.
Oswald Chambers, Abandoned to God (by David McCasland)
Oswald Chambers, the author of the famous My Utmost For His Highest, is one of my favorite authors to read. His life is even more profound. A humble servant, a prolific writer, a deep expositor and preacher, and a remarkable teacher are a few words that describe this man of God. Told through narrative and journal entries, this book gives you a view of the man who wrote the world’s best-selling devotional book and brought countless thousands to the saving work of Christ.
Amy Carmichael, A Chance to Die (by Elizabeth Elliot)
Amy Carmichael, as a young Irish woman, set off to be a missionary—spending the majority of her life in India. Her life was one of complete abandon as she rescued girls from temple prostitution, cared for orphans, and wrote passionately about the Christian life. Reading about Amy Carmichael gives an urgency of soul, a deeper love and passion for Jesus, and a piercing conviction for how I spend my time.